Tretinoin, a chemical cousin of Vitamin A and the active ingredient in the anti-acne cream Retin-A, can dramatically fade liver spots, according to new research reported last week in the New England Journal of Medicine. Tretinoin, sold under the brand name Retin-A by Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp., has also been used to treat warts and sun-damaged skin. Sales of the drug skyrocketed in 1988 after a University of Michigan team reported that it helped smooth wrinkles.
In a new study by the same team involving 58 volunteers, half received cream containing tretinoin and the other half received a placebo cream without the ingredient. After 10 months, 83% of the tretinoin recipients saw their face spots lighten, compared with 29% who received the placebo.